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Civil and Criminal Law

Civil and Criminal Law

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Civil and Criminal Law

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  1. Civil and Criminal Law Chapter 16

  2. Plaintiff v Defendant • In civil cases the plaintiff–the party bringing a lawsuit–claims to have suffered a loss and usually seeks damages, an award of money from the defendant. • The defendant–the party being sued–argues either that the loss did not occur or that the defendant is not responsible for it.

  3. Types of Civil Lawsuits • Lawsuits involving a few thousand dollars or less are often handled in a small claims court, where people act as their own attorneys. • Lawsuits may involve property disputes, breach of contract, or divorce. • A negligence suit is filed when a person has been injured or killed or when property has been destroyed because someone else has been careless or negligent.


  5. What Happens in Civil Cases • A lawsuit starts when the plaintiff’s lawyer files acomplaint–a formal statement naming the plaintiff and the defendant and describing the nature of the suit. • The court then sends the defendant a summons,a document telling him of the suit and requiring him to appear in court at a certain time.

  6. The Defendant’s Response • The defendant may respond by having his lawyer file an “answer” to the complaint. • The answer may admit to the charges or deny responsibility. • The complaint and answer together are called pleadings. • During the discovery process before the trial, both lawyers check facts and gather evidence by questioning the other party and witnesses.

  7. Pretrial Discussions • The judge may call a pretrial conference with both parties. • If the case is weak, the plaintiff may decide to drop the suit. • If it is strong, the defendant may offer a settlement in which parties agree on the amount of money the defendant will pay the plaintiff.

  8. Another way to resolve disputes before going to trial is through mediation. -A trained mediator does not decide the case, but serves as a neutral party to help the two sides reach an agreement. • The two sides may choose arbitration. -A professional arbitrator reviews and resolves the dispute, and the arbitrator’s decision is usually binding on both parties.

  9. Pretrial Discussions • Most civil cases are settled before trial for several reasons. • First, parties often prefer a negotiated outcome to the uncertain outcome of a trial. • Second, it may take years for a case to come to trial. • Third, trials are expensive and time-consuming.

  10. Trial • If the parties do not settle, the case goes to trial. • A jury of 6 to 12 members or, more likely, a judge will hear the case. • First the plaintiff and then the defendant present.

  11. Trial • The plaintiff has to present enough evidence to persuade the judge or jury that the defendant is likely to be responsible for the incident. • This is a lower standard than prosecutors must meet in criminal cases.

  12. Trial • The judge or jury considers all evidence and decides on a verdict in favor of one of the parties. • If the plaintiff wins, a remedy is set. If the defendant wins, the plaintiff gets nothing and must pay court costs.

  13. Appeal • If the losing side believes the judge made errors or some injustice occurred, it may appeal to a higher court. • Cases involving large awards are often appealed. • As a result, the winning plaintiff may wait years for the money and may end up with nothing.

  14. __ 1. a notice directing someone to appear in court to answer a complaint or a charge __ 2. a formal notice that a lawsuit is being brought __ 3. a person or party filing a lawsuit __ 4. an individual or group being sued or charged with a crime __ 5. Parties agree on an amount of money the defendant will pay the plaintiff. A. Plaintiff B. defendant C. Settlement D. complaint E. summons

  15. Criminal Cases Chapter 16 Section 2

  16. Types of Cases • In criminal law cases the government charges someone with a crime and is always the prosecution. • The accused person is the defendant.

  17. Types of Cases • A crime is an act that breaks a federal or state criminal law and causes harm to people or society in general. • Each state has a set of written criminal laws, called the penal code, that spells out punishments for each crime.

  18. Felonies v. Misdemeanors • Misdemeanors are minor violations. • Sentence of one year or less • Felonies are serious crimes • Murder, burglary, kidnapping, arson, rape. • Imprisonment for a year or more • Also lose certain civil rights and employment opportunities.

  19. Types of Felonies • Crimes against people include murder, manslaughter (accidental killing), assault (physical injury or threat of injury), rape, and kidnapping. • Crimes against property include larceny (burglary, robbery, and theft), vandalism (deliberate destruction of property), and fraud (taking property by dishonest means.) • Crimes such as unauthorized gambling and illegal drug use are considered victimless crimes, because there is no victim to bring a complaint.

  20. Functions of Penalties • Criminal penalties punish criminals and protect society by keeping dangerous criminals in prison. • They serve as a warning to deter others from committing the same crime. • Criminal penalties are also intended to help prepare lawbreakers to reenter society after their prison terms end.

  21. Penalties for Crimes • In some cases, a parole board may decide to grant a prisoner parole, or early release. • In these cases, the person must report to a parole officer until the sentence expires.

  22. Penalties for Crimes • Some states require mandatory sentencing, in which judges must impose whatever sentence the law directs. • Opponents say the judge should be able to impose harsher sentences than the law directs. • Indeterminate Sentence, a judge imposes a minimum and maximum sentence.

  23. Sentencing Options • Suspended Sentence= sentence is given, but not served at that time • Home confinement= serve sentence at home • Restitution=the defendant must pay back or make up damages • Monetary fine= Damages are paid • Work Release= the defendant s allowed to work but must return to prison at night and on weekends. • Imprisonment • Death

  24. STEPS IN A CRIMINAL CASE? • Officers make arrests if they have witnessed a suspected crime, if a citizen has reported a crime, or if a judge has issued an arrest warrant. • At arrest, the officer informs the person of four rights: the right to remain silent, to have an attorney present during questioning, to have a court-appointed attorney if the person cannot afford one, and to stop answering questions at any time.

  25. After an Arrest • The suspect is then booked, or charged with a crime. • Police take fingerprints and a photograph. • The suspect may call a lawyer at this time.

  26. Preliminary Hearing • In a few hours, the suspect appears in court. • The prosecution must show the judge probable cause–a good reason–to believe the accused committed the crime. • The judge then sends the accused back to jail, sets bail, or releases him on his own recognizance (without bail) with a promise to appear in court when called.

  27. Indictment by a GRAND JURY • In federal and many state courts, a grand jury decides whether to indict. • In some states, a preliminary hearing is used instead. • In others, the prosecutor files an “information” and the judge decides whether to indict.

  28. The Arraignment • The defendant then appears for an arraignmentand must enter a plea. 1. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case continues. 2. If the plea is guilty, the defendant stands convicted and the judge determines the punishment. 3. A plea of no contest means that the defendant does not admit guilt but will not fight the charges.

  29. Trial • For a jury trial, both sides select potential jurors from a large pool of residents within the court’s jurisdiction. • Both can reject some candidates.

  30. Trial • The lawyers for each side outline their case in an opening statement. • The prosecution and defense then present their cases in turn. • They call witnesses who give testimony–answers given under oath. • The other side may cross-examinewitnesses to try to discredit their testimony.

  31. Trial • In closing statements, both sides highlight the evidence most favorable to their case. • The judge then “instructs” the jury on the law that relates to the case.

  32. The Jury • The jury goes off to discuss the case. • They choose a foreman or forewoman to lead the discussion. • Deliberations are secret and have no time limit. • Finally, they vote.

  33. The Jury Decides! • A guilty verdict means the jury found the evidence convincing “beyond a reasonable doubt.” • Most states require a unanimous vote. • Acquittalis a vote of not guilty. • If the jury cannot decide on a verdict, the judge declares a hung juryand rules a mistrial. • The prosecution must then decide whether to drop the charges or retry the case.

  34. Sentencing • If the verdict is guilty, the judge sets a court date for sentencing. • Sometimes the jury recommends a sentence. • More often, the judge decides the sentence. • Sentences often specify prison time, but may include fines or community service work.

  35. Verdict and Sentencing • The defense often appeals a guilty verdict. • The Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy bars the prosecution from appealing a not-guilty verdict.

  36. __ 1. the statements a witness makes under oath __ 2. to question a witness at a trial or a hearing to check or discredit the testimony __ 3. a vote of not guilty __ 4. an act that breaks a law and causes harm to people or society in general __ 5. a hearing in which a suspect is charged and pleads guilty or not guilty A. Crime B. arraignment C. Testimony D.cross-examine E. acquittal

  37. Young People and the Courts Chapter 16 Section 3

  38. Cases of Juvenile Delinquency • In most states, anyone under age 18 is considered ajuvenile–not yet legally an adult. • Our system treats young people who commit crimes–called juvenile delinquents–somewhat differently from adults. • Older juveniles charged with serious crimes, though, may be tried as adults.

  39. Juvenile Delinquency • Factors such as abuse, neglect, emotional or mental problems, and poverty contribute to juvenile delinquency. • However, many children with these risk factors never have trouble with the law, while children from all backgrounds can become delinquents.

  40. Stages in the Juvenile System • The main goal of juvenile courts is to try torehabilitate, or correct a person’s behavior, rather than punish. • Cases begin with arrest or petitions to the courts filed by school administrators, store managers, or others. Parents may also petition. • This means that children can be put into the juvenile justice system without having been accused of a crime.

  41. Stages in the Juvenile Justice system • Before reforms in the late 1800s, juvenile offenders received the same sentences and were sent to the same prisons as adults. • Today, juvenile courts try to do whatever is best for the young person.

  42. Two types of cases: Neglect and Delinquency • In cases ofneglect or abuse by caregivers, a court may place youths in foster homes. • Delinquency cases involve crimes. • Other cases involve actions that are considered illegal only for juveniles, such as running away or curfew violation.

  43. What happens if I get arrested? • When a juvenile is arrested, police notify the parents or caregivers. • The child may be sent home or placed in juvenile detention until time to appear in court.

  44. Diversion or Detention? • In nonviolent cases, juveniles may be diverted away from court and placed into special programs, such as counseling, job training, or drug treatment. • A judge may hold a detention hearing to determine whether the juveniles might be dangerous to themselves or others. • If so, they may remain confined.

  45. The Trial • The trial is less formal than in adult court. • Only the parties involved may attend. • Both sides call and cross-examine witnesses. • There is no jury. • The judge decides whether the young person is delinquent or nondelinquent.

  46. The Trial • The system tries to protect juveniles by keeping their identities and criminal records secret. • No fingerprints are taker or photographs taken. • In some cases, records may be erased when the offender becomes an adult. • Some states are experimenting with peer juries for the sentencing stage, if the defendant agrees.